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Edinburgh: New Town, Galleries, Brittania & Arthur's Seat

I'm debating whether or not to take a free walking tour of New Town in August. Is there enough there to justify a 2.5 hour tour? Also, if I can only pick between the Scottish National Gallery and Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which is better? We will have already been to the National Museum and done a fairly thorough job of Old Town.

As well, are the Britannia and Arthur's Seat hike worth it (instead of New Town)? We will have already spent time hiking in Skye, etc.


Posted by
896 posts

I had a lovely morning at Britannia last spring. I got there fairly early so it wasn't crowded, but not too long after two different groups of French students (teenagers) turned up. I let them get about five minutes ahead of me, which made it so much more relaxing and quiet! Britannia is situated next to a small mall, so you can get lunch after touring the yacht and there are a few shops if you need a little retail therapy. In all, I spent between 3.5-4 hours there.

I haven't done the Arthur's Seat hike, so I can't say that Britannia is a better way to spend your time, but I should point out that the yacht is a little pricey: adult admission was somewhere between £15-20 last year.

The National Portrait Gallery is in a particularly beautiful building so that gives it an appeal beyond the paintings.

I would have thought the walking tour would give you the social, historical and architectural context behind what is a fascinating and early example of a planned city environment. By the way, you know that the New Town is only new in the sense that it's newer than the Old Town, don't you?

Posted by
810 posts

I really enjoyed the Britania, but I skipped Arthur's Seat after realizing it was going to be very time consuming just to get there, let alone the hike up. So you may not want to spend a lot of time just getting to one location when you could stay in town and see a couple of other places.

Posted by
4131 posts

You didn't mention the castle. Are you planning to go there?

Posted by
36 posts

Yes, we are doing the castle and everything associated with Old Town. Since we have this pocket of time, I'm trying to determine if we should do the walking tour, go inside either Gallery, or something else. I'm not inclined to to Arthur's Seat so trying to narrow down our options.


Posted by
43 posts

How long is the hike to Arthur's Seat for a healthy 65+ ?

We arrive 7/5 for the RS tour.

Bill in SoCal

Posted by
702 posts

We didn't do New Town at all (well other than Princes St by the Balmoral & Scott Monument) when we were there. We did do Britannia and really loved it. We spent almost 3 hours there one morning, which included lunch in the Queen's Tea Room. We went up Calton Hill but not Arthur's Seat. Hope you enjoy your time in Scotland.


Posted by
1879 posts

If you decide to not do Arthur's Seat, there is always Calton Hill. It's very easy, and offers a nice view of Edinburgh. Don't miss the cemetery on the walk up...interesting grave markers, quiet, and a nice reflective place to spend a few minutes.

Posted by
470 posts

We really loved touring the Britannia, and it took us about 3 hours to see everything at a leisurely pace. We often stopped to sit down and really admire the furnishings. You get to tour everything from top to bottom- from the laundry room and kitchen to the personal bedrooms. Everything is authentic and original and is being lovingly maintained by crew. It was a fascinating and intimate glimpse into the life of the royals. Well worth the time and money. We took a bus that stopped right in front of the ship.

Posted by
138 posts

Scottish National Gallery or Scottish National Portrait Gallery? Since I chose the former when I had to chose I would not be able to compare but I can say I absolutely LOVED the Scottish National Gallery. The entire layout of the museum is spacious with a seamless flow between rooms. There is a wide variety of artist and periods with items clearly labeled. It was one of my favorite places I visited while in Edinburgh.

Enjoy your time.